RSL Educational | The 20 best sites for free 11 Plus resources: past

Free 11+ resources are scattered across the internet, and it can be a pain to track them down.

Then, at last, you find something which looks useful ...

  • But how can you be sure that it's going to teach your children the right things?

  • How do you know that it really matches the requirements for 11 plus?

Until now, nobody has made a proper attempt to list the most useful materials in a single place.

... Until now ...

Because in this article I put that right!

(Can you think of a better reason to share an article with your friends?)

This list reflects my own opinions, based on a decade of writing resources and teaching for 11 plus, but I've tried to be as objective as possible.

I've included sites focused on grammar schools, independent schools, and both. Bear in mind that the broadest (and therefore the most secure) exam preparation will involve familiarising your child with a range of question types. This is particularly true when children are preparing for very competitive grammars: the most challenging, stretching practice materials can often be found on private school websites. For this reason, although I have categorised pages using ‘grammar’ and ‘independent’, it's worth looking beyond these labels.

I've written this list in the confidence that many people, having seen what else is available, will decide that the very best materials are here, on this site!

  • Free English and Maths sample papers with the most detailed solutions available anywhere can be downloaded on our Shop & Free Papers page.

If you think I’ve missed a useful link, please get in touch - and please share your thoughts in the Comments below.

1. Manchester Grammar School (Independent and Grammar)

Through a decade of tutoring, this has been my favourite online resource. Like several other schools, Manchester Grammar puts several years of past papers on their website. They are interesting and challenging, and all except the written comprehensions have answers provided. There are two types of maths paper: one for short answers and one with more developed, problem-solving questions (comparable to the level of papers 3 & 4 in RSL 11+ Maths). However, the best thing is English Paper 1 (or Paper A, depending on the year). This is a beautifully constructed, very challenging multiple choice paper. Most children find these tough initially, so it is best to ignore the time limit unless you are preparing for Manchester Grammar's own exams. Candidates for other (multiple choice) grammar school entrance tests who get the hang of these will find their own exams comfortable by comparison; and they are likely to find these papers more interesting than the standard revision fare. These papers are also excellent preparation for independent school multiple choice papers, such as those often set by Latymer Upper School.

It is best if you go through your child’s mistakes carefully with them (there are likely to be plenty), discussing the reasons why another answer was better, and reinforcing the skills of eliminating impossible answers and weighing up realistic possibilities. As a guide: 80% is an excellent score. 70% is strong. Anything over 60%, and you are on the right track but with some work to do. If the mark is lower, it is worth revisiting the basic skills of multiple choice comprehension (easier papers can gloss over such problems).

2. (Grammar)

This is the most useful site for parents who want to understand how the grammar school 11 plus system works. The site is easy to navigate and the articles are clear, up-to-date and authoritative. There is also an active discussion forum: most of your questions will probably already have been answered there, but there also appears to be a busy community of contributors if you have something new to ask. As the authors admit, the site doesn’t offer much for the independent sector (‘This website’s primary purpose is to inform parents about the selective system for state grammar schools’).

3. Parents In Touch (Independent & Grammar)

Parents In Touch offers a huge selection of resources. The page linked above includes a considerable number of free papers, as well as reviews of 11+ books (disclosure: some of my books have been generously reviewed here). It is well worth exploring the rest of the site for worksheets and advice covering an extensive range of topics.

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4. Dr Frost Maths (Maths Learning & Revision)

Jamie Frost’s maths site is wonderful, and a favourite resource for teachers across the country. While not strictly for 11 plus, it deserves inclusion here because the Year 7 resources (created to teach at the Tiffin School) are highly relevant: most of the topics under the ‘Autumn 1’ to ‘Spring 2’ headings, in the link above, turn up at this level. Each subject area is covered through Powerpoint presentations, activities and printable worksheets.

5. (Grammar & Independent)

This is a very useful site with a wide range of advice for grammar and independent school entry. It offers guidance for each grammar school region, and it has more for the independent sector than many of the pages on this list (for example, there is a school-by-school guide to the independent schools of London). Its Top Ten 11 Plus Preparation Tips are all sound advice. 11 Plus Guide offers a significant range of downloadable practice resources. It's well worth rummaging through the site (and sometimes you need to scroll down a bit) to find them.

6. The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School (Habs’ Boys) (Independent)

The Habs’ Boys papers are interesting and challenging. The mathematics papers are the only readily available resource (apart from the later papers in my 11+ Maths pack!) which consistently, and with high quality, approach the level of, for example, the St Paul’s Girls 11+ maths exam.

7. Bond Publications (Grammar)

When you have registered for free, Bond provides a decent range of downloadable resources. Although Bond’s books are marketed for independent and grammar schools, they are more useful for grammars. Their comprehension papers don’t allow children to practise developed, analytical answers in the manner required by most independent schools, and the level of the maths is not very demanding. The answer materials tend to be very limited, lacking much explanation. Children who rely only on Bond tend to be overwhelmed by the more difficult entrance exams. (This was my view, as a tutor, long before I went into publishing – and was one of the reasons I established the RSL brand in the first place.) However, one very useful aspect of the Bond range is their extensive stock of verbal and non-verbal reasoning materials, which I use in my teaching.

8. Notting Hill & Ealing High School (Independent)

This page contains (at the time of writing) nine years’ past papers for the North London Independent Girls’ Schools’ Consortium, Group 1. As well as Notting Hill, this group includes Francis Holland (Regent’s Park), Francis Holland (Sloane Square), Queen’s College, St. Helen’s School and South Hampstead High School.

I use these mathematics and English papers extensively in my teaching. The questions are challenging and interesting, covering most corners of the KS2/11+ syllabus.

  • The papers for the North London Girls’ Consortium are pitched at a similar level to papers 5-8 of RSL 11 + Comprehension and papers 3 & 4 of RSL 11+ Maths (with papers 5 & 6 very useful for practising the difficult questions which come towards the end of the Consortium exams).

9. Godolphin & Latymer (Independent)

This page contains 9 years of papers for the North London Independent Girls’ Schools’ Consortium, Group 2. This group also includes Channing School, More House, Northwood College for Girls, Queen’s Gate School and St James Senior Girls’ School. As with the Group 1 papers above, these are very useful, fairly difficult practice.

10. (Grammar)

This is a useful and well-built site. The free resources are fairly limited (you need to buy credits in order to go beyond the initial tests) and you have to get through a couple of sign-up forms, for you and for your child, to access most of them; but the tests are effectively constructed and quite entertaining. Quirkily animated figures jive across the screen to celebrate a correct answer, which makes me smile at least. This is really a resource for multiple choice grammar school tests: the independent school papers offered are all available from the schools’ own websites anyway.

11. (Grammar & Some Independent)

This site has some useful free resources for verbal and non-verbal reasoning, including practice papers and video tutorials. The free maths papers are also good, with a wide range of questions - some of which are quite challenging. The site is grammar-focused, but also of some use for independent school applicants.

12. The Tutoress (Independent & Grammar)

Victoria Olubi’s website has undergone a recent revamp and is now very user-friendly. The most useful resource here is an extensive list of independent schools with past papers published online. There are also a couple of Victoria’s own papers to download, which are pitched at a readily accessible level.

13. St Paul’s Girls' School (Independent)

There aren’t many papers here, but they are great: worth saving till the final stages of an ambitious child’s preparation. The maths exams are particularly good, though the lack of answers means that parents who aren’t confident with maths may find them a challenge to mark. Some of the questions go beyond the usual 11+ mathematics syllabus (see Paper 1, question C2, for example!), so don’t panic if your child is baffled.

  • For questions at this level with worked solutions, see papers 5 and 6 in RSL 11+ Maths.

The St Paul's English papers are also useful, requiring developed answers.

14. (Grammar & Independent)

The old papers offered here for free are often very useful – there are well-chosen comprehension passages and questions, for example, and a good range of maths topics are covered at a robust intermediate level. If answers could be added, these would be even more valuable.

15. Key Stage Online (Grammar)

This website has a small range of well-constructed resources, useful for grammar school entrance exams and perhaps also for the early stages of independent school preparation. There is a small selection of free papers for maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and English. Their advice sheets focus on the simple things, but are none the worse for it: they suggest ways to set goals and organise work, and remind parents how important it is to praise achievement along the way. Checklists for choosing a school and for the application/registration process are clear and helpful.

16. (Grammar)

This site contains a number of free grammar-style tests, mainly in the CEM format. Usefully, answers are included.

17. SATs Papers (Grammar)

This is SATs-focused, but it offers a few good-quality CEM-style papers to download.

18. 11 Plus Swot (Grammar)

This is a useful site, with a mixture of free online and downloadable papers. The only problem is that the free downloads have SAMPLE in black letters across each page! This could be fixed by moving the watermark into the background. The online tests are multiple choice, and are useful for (for example) consolidating Key Stage 2 number skills.

19. Sevenoaks School (Independent)

These are high quality past papers. The maths is moderate to challenging (at the level of papers 1-4 in RSL 11+ Maths). However, I have really included this page because of the interesting English papers: these offer short passages but require developed, analytical answers. The level of the questions resembles 13+, though I imagine that the marking will be a little more lenient. This site is at number 19 only because the question format is not useful practice for all schools.

To prepare for Sevenoaks English exams, I recommend the final papers of RSL 11+ Comprehension, and the first few papers of RSL 13+ Comprehension.

20. (Grammar & Independent)

This page contains a number of ‘how to’ sheets and brief worked examples for maths and reasoning, which may be useful where a specific topic has been forgotten and needs brushing up.